Byttedyr Stray

16-year old Wilma travels from Denmark to Florida for a US exchange year. She’s to stay with a host family, The Stoners, and eagerly looks forward to beach lounging and the full high school experience. The family’s teenage daughter Rebecca attempts to take Wilma under her wing, but it quickly becomes evident she doesn’t fit in with her crowd. Instead Wilma begins heading out on nightly adventures with Rebecca’s older brother, Jamie. Rumours are flourishing about a missing teenage girl from the local community and Wilma hasn’t been in Florida long when a body is found. Having always had a strong sixth sense, Wilma’s gut is telling her the killer is someone in their neighborhood. A predator, lurking in the shadows. When another girl goes missing, it dawns on Wilma that the killer might be even closer to home.

With the acclaimed, spine-chilling and highly atmospheric novel Stray, Villadsen makes her accomplished first stab at the YA-suspense genre.



Københavns Biblioteker Award (Shortlisted for Young Adult Novel of the Year) Denmark 2022
Blixenprisen (Shortlisted for Young Adult Novel of the Year) Denmark 2022
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  • “Lise Villadsen has written an incredibly thrilling tale about an exchange student’s experiences with a host family in Florida. The stay abroad is set up for parties, pristine beaches and high school-infatuations, but seventeen year old Wilma carries heavy emotional baggage with her from home. A deceased, violent step father and a mother that Wilma finds it difficult to part with. The novel nicely depicts life in foreign milieus on eye level with the seventeen year old narrator and presents nuanced character portrayals. The suspense is amplified using elegant dosage of information, making it impossible to know what will happen next.”

    Jury Motivation, Blixenprisen, Denmark

  • “In but a few years, Lise Villadsen has gained a lot of ground as an author. /…/ Her last publication Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die is a first class psychological drama. This Stray proves to be as well. Stray unfolds as a dynamic thriller, where the reader ultimately doesn’t know what’s up or down, all whilst the swamps spit out alligators and pythons.”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • “A cliffhanger of a YA-novel, that certainly can also be enjoyed by adults. /…/ Stray is both nerve-wrecking and incredibly thrilling.”

    Midtjyllands Avis, Denmark

  • “A masterful YA novel. /…/ The plot is truly well-constructed and as reader one is thrown back and forth at the whims of Wilma and her sixth sense. The novel’s atmosphere is permeated by something unsettling, that lies in waiting, but isn’t quite apparent. Small clues are dispersed throughout for the readers, who will be clutching at straws, but never quite catching them. The nerves will never be at rest, because slowly but surely, the narrative approaches something fateful. Lise Villadsen is a true master at writing YA novels. She knows how to set a linguistic tone and an ambience that makes the pages turn themselves. Her characters are always noteworthy and easy to identify with. This novel is no exception and is the best thing Lise Villadsen has written to date. With this novel Lise Villadsen invites the reader to a reader’s experience where one’s own judgment will be challenged. It is truly a masterpiece that is recommended for everyone to read.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

  • “Well-constructed and incessantly thrilling novel, written in a well-formulated, compact and intense language. /…/ It’s exciting from the very get-go. It’s always a joy to read [Villadsen’s] books.”

    Børn og Bøger, Denmark

  • Stray is a scintillating plot-driven story. /…/ Stray is a YA thriller that most certainly is worth recommending to your students as leisurely reading. It’s a page turner all the way through.”, Denmark

  • “Have your teenagers read Stray. /…/ This book falls under the classification Domestic Noir, and it’s unique in its kind for the target audience. It’s impossible to put down.”, Denmark

  • Stray is a highly well-written and spine-tingling novel. The characters are incredible in their own ways, the plot is totally unpredictable and it ends in a completely different way to what I expected. It’s a wild read, that contains many surprises along the way.”

    Randers Bibliotek, Denmark

  • “Lise Villadsen’s Stray is for you that enjoy a riveting plot, an unsettling atmosphere and a narrator you’re not sure whether to trust.”

    Rudersdal Bibliotekerne, Denmark

  • “A creepy psychological YA-thriller. /…/ Lise Villadsen toys with our expectations, our emotions and instincts. Who is the predator and who is the prey? She accomplishes to uphold the suspense throughout the entire novel. /…/ The narrative, plot, characters, atmosphere, places – everything in this novel is so well carried out that it brings the reader on a wild journey, both to Florida but also to a place in your mind where you are forced to practice sympathy and empathy-shifts. Simply put a bloody brilliant novel for all those over 14.”

    Littera_din_tur, Denmark

  • “This one was creepy. Even a hardcore horror fan like me got goosebumps several times. I love the atmosphere in Stray! It is written just right so that you sit with a disconcerting feeling the whole way throughout, without ever overdoing it. /…/ An incredibly well-written novel recommended for all YA-lovers. but also fans in general of suspense novels. Also recommended for authors wanting inspiration on how to pull off unreliable narrators.”

    Kristinel_writing, Denmark

  • “Ready for a nerve-wracking atmosphere that will crawl down your back? Then read this novel. (..) I’ve read the author’s other books and therefor knew that she, better than most, can write credible characters and scenes. /…/ I don’t wan’t to spoil too much and therefor settle for praising the sinister characters and the unpredictable plot.”

    Fantastiske.familie.boger, Denmark

  • “I’ll never get too old for a great, solid high school-thriller and certainly not when the plot is so excellently executed as in Stray by Lise Villadsen. /…/ Nothing is what it seems in this domestic crime novel with moods like in Twin Peaks and True Blood. /…/ Lise Villadsen knows her genre like the back of her hand and is an insanely skilled plottwister, so Stray is a true pleasure to read.”

    Magnoliadays, Denmark

  • “I loved Stray, and it had some wild twists along the way, that I couldn’t have foreseen. Lise Villadsen toys with our expectations on how this type of novel should unfold, and she does it well.”


    Mellem Linjerne, Denmark

  • “An insanely thrilling and unnerving young adult novel.”

    Kmf_junior, Denmark

  • “Villadsen truly is a welcome voice in the fight to make young people read. Personally I devour her books. /…/ Villadsen also has things on her mind in this novel. In Stray there are subjects like animal welfare, gender, Denmark versus USA, family roles and class differences being treated.”

    Basaugerbooks, Denmark

  • “Here we’re talking about a completely fantastic young adult thriller that is genuinely disturbing! I hope [Villadsen] will write more crime novels.”

    Boglitt, Denmark

  • “For me Stray absolutely belongs with the more interesting crime novels, where you have to get a good bit into the book before one’s guesses of what is about to happen begin to properly form. /…/ Wilma’s thinking process and the way it develops throughout the novel is particularly interesting to follow. /…/ It’s thrilling and the book was insanely difficult to put down!”

    Pleasejustletmeread, Denmark

  • “I want to recommend Stray to each and everyone, as I cannot picture anyone who wouldn’t be gripped by it. With its captivating suspense arch and activist attitudes in a classic YA setting, it will be a page turner for every kind of reader. /…/ Lise Villadsen displays an incredibly well crafted tale, where she not only masters the plot but also the language, which makes the narrator leap out of the sentences and the atmosphere chill my spine.”


    Lm_laeser, Denmark

  • “Do you enjoy sitting at the edge of your seat? Are you a fan of coming up with all kinds of theories? Do you not mind getting taken for a literary ride? Are you not a classical crime fan? Then I present you with the perfect book in the shape of Lise Villadsen’s Stray. /…/ A week after having finished the book I still don’t know what to believe. I kept throwing theories about during the read, but mostly I was one big question mark. In a really good way. Lise Villadsen conjures so many emotions that sent my empathy around between the characters and confused my inner detective. /…/ You have to read Stray as it’s a genius Young Adult novel, that both contains relatability and outrage all whilst your judgment is being seriously tested. Allow your pulse to steadily speed up and enter the frenzied experience that reading Stray is.”

    Bogfeber, Denmark

  • “[Villadsen] is truly accomplished at creating atmosphere. I could feel Wilma, I could see her thought-process and her fear. I could see how things moved in the dark, and I couldn’t help getting drawn into the web of secrets. This book is one of the best I’ve read this year. It’s so unpredictable, frightening and fantastic. There’s so much suspense and the plot is simply amazing. I have but words of praise for this novel, and for the rest of the author’s published books.”

    Bogormenania, Denmark

  • “I think Stray is nothing less than amazing. It makes a lot of sense that it was nominated for this year’s Blixenprisen. /…/ Throughout the entire book there is an underlying, dark vibe of something mysterious, twisted and frightening. This makes it rather creepy, but also hugely alluring. What is truth and what is imagination. Nothing is certain. But a cool reading experience it sure is.”

    Boegerne_i_mit_liv, Denmark

  • “Let me be clear from the start: this is such a gripping, exciting and fantastic novel for the teenagers. /…/ A story that hits you just the right way, where you in the following weeks go mulling over the content. Because what really happened?! This would make an excellent Netflix mini series. Just saying.”

    Bogoplevelsen, Denmark

  • “It’s no secret that we are big fans of Lise’s novels. She writes scintillating young adult literature, that certainly can be read by adult readers as well. One always become so taken by the various characters in her works and detects a kind of relatability that makes them easy to identify with to the reader. A through and through unparalleled reading experience out of the ordinary. It’s frightening, hair-raising, captivating and one become utterly immersed by the narrative.”

    Litteratur til Danskfaget, Denmark

  • “A genuinely intriguing novel with the perfect amount of teenage drama, murder, friendship and odd people. /…/ A stunning, stunning novel!”

    Nattens_laeseeventyr, Denmark

  • “A great thriller is one of the best things I know. You know those books where the heart begins to pound like crazy and you can’t read fast enough? Stray is that kind of book. Villadsen writes an intense and perceptive narrative that captivates the reader from the start and all the way to the final sentence. One constantly sits with an eerie feeling in one’s body, just like Wilma does. /…/ Besides being a fantastic thriller, the novel also manages to place a spotlight on the whole #textmewhenugethome-phenomenon. The young girls who go missing are exposed to a great amount of victim blaming and there are plenty of culture clashes. /…/ Stray is Villadsen’s first thriller, but hopefully not her last! It’s well-written, so exciting and does all that a novel in this genre ought to!”


    Xeniasbogblog, Denmark

  • “This ended up being the best reading experience I’ve had this past year. /…/ It’s a fantastic and mad story that’s so exciting, I ended up being awake all night to finish reading it. /…/ It’s an unsettling narrative, that builds up a creepy atmosphere. There are plenty of macabre descriptions and cliffhangers, and it is constructed in a way that makes the excitement hold up from the first to last sentence. It’s rare that I read something so captivating as Stray and when I had to put the book away my thoughts constantly kept turning back to the story and going over theories. /…/ I absolutely loved it! The portrayals of culture clashes and topics that go hand in hand with MeToo also serves to give the book an added layer. Lise Villadsen, this is a stroke of genius!”


    Dinasbooks, Denmark

  • “Lise Villadsen is in my eyes one of Denmark’s most exceptionally talented authors. I have read three of her novels and she nails it with every single one. Stray is no exception – on the contrary it has actually become my new favourite. /…/ Stray is a genuinely interesting YA-novel filled with mystery, darkness and opportunities to form your own theories along the way – and where we encounter a lot of relatable topics such as friendship, family dynamics and love. /…/ I rarely read thrillers, but Stray demonstrates qualities that creates an utterly spine-tingling reader’s experience and makes the world around you stand still. Lise Villadsen has in other words not just done it again, but has rather outdone herself here.”


    Fantasiturist, Denmark

  • “When a book simultaneously makes me want to scream, tear something to shreds and lock my front door, it’s evident that it’s a truly great novel, that makes me feel so many things at the same time. Stray is fantastic and I loved every minute of it. /…/ Lise Villadsen writes so eminently well, she writes credible characters and is, as this goes to show, also very skilled at creating atmospheres. More Danish YA literature of this caliber thank you!”

    Bogdoktor, Denmark

  • “Every once in a while, one stumbles across a little masterpiece. That is just what Stray is. It toys with all your instincts, everything you believe, and it turns your worldview up-side-down.”

    Bibliotekat, Denmark

Photo: Anders Heinrichsen Lise Villadsen
  • Young Adult
Reading material

Danish edition

English translation

Rights sold

Albania, Shkupi

Armenia, Edge

Czech Republic, Dobrovsky

Denmark, Gyldendal

Hungary, Metropolis Media

Netherlands, Van Goor

Poland, HarperCollins

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